Dear NELSD Families,
As I have expressed many times over the past few weeks, keeping our school community safe and in the classroom remains the top priority at the Northeastern Local School District (NELSD). I sent a letter to families last week asking for everyone’s help to keep our students in a face-to-face learning environment by wearing masks in our school buildings.
Unfortunately, despite this plea, we had to move our Northridge Elementary and Middle Schools and our Northeastern Middle and High School buildings to an entirely virtual, remote learning environment this week because of a continued rise of positive COVID-19 cases and quarantines. In our first week of reporting numbers on our COVID-19 Dashboard, we had 4.39 percent of the student body across the district in quarantine. We had 7.79 percent of our whole student body in quarantine in our second week of reporting numbers. As of today, we have 13.96 percent of our student body in quarantine. With those numbers continuing to rise across the District today, it is clear that we are not accomplishing our goal of keeping students learning in person.
We know that having our students at school and learning face-to-face is best for their educational progress. In addition, under the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) quarantine guidance, students and staff do not have to quarantine from school if they are exposed to COVID-19 at school when a universal masking requirement is in place, as long as those individuals are wearing a mask and following protocols.
Therefore, based on these guidelines, the continued rise in cases and quarantines, and a recommendation from Clark County Combined Health Department (CCCHD), NELSD has decided to take an essential step to help our students and staff stay in school. Starting on Monday, September 13, NELSD will implement a universal face mask requirement for anyone entering a NELSD building. In addition, face masks will be required for all students (PK-12), staff and visitors while inside school buildings or on a NELSD bus or van. Please note, there is not a liability waiver or opt-out form that exempts students from wearing masks.
For some students, wearing a mask at all times is not developmentally, medically, or religiously appropriate.
When masks are not developmentally appropriate, they will not be required. A good rule of thumb is if a student can’t put on their mask on their own, they will need special consideration.
If your student has a medical exemption for wearing a mask, please contact your physician for paperwork about the exemption and then provide that paperwork to your student’s building principal.
If there is a religious objection, that religious doctrine needs to be provided to your student’s building principal.
Masks will not be required outside, during recess, or when students exercise in PE class.
Masks are required on the school bus.
For athletics and band, masks will not be required during practices or matches.
During music classes, our teachers will follow best practices from the OMEA.
Masks will not be required while eating or drinking.
Teachers will facilitate brief mask breaks when students need a break.
If students forget or misplace their masks, we will have masks available in the office.
NELSD will continue with the following preventative safety measures:
Wellness checks at home and staying home when ill.
Cleaning of surfaces and frequent handwashing/use of sanitizer.
Hand sanitizer stations will continue to be located at the entrances and throughout all of our buildings.
Social distancing, where practical.
Access to COVID-19 test kits if requested by families and available.
Encouragement and support for eligible students and staff to receive free COVID-19 vaccinations.
Following our quarantining protocols, which are aligned to the ODH and CCCHD requirements.
Collaborating with the CCCHD to keep our students and staff safe.
Notifying you about cases of COVID-19 in your child’s school, class, team, or activity.
I know many of you will have mixed feelings and strong opinions about these steps and the difficult decisions ahead. I promise our decisions around COVID-19 will not always make you happy, but I also promise that we will always make the best decisions we can to keep our students and staff safe and learning together in person. As we have continued to reiterate constantly over the past year and a half, the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 are continuously evolving. Therefore, I am asking for your patience, support and flexibility as we continue to manage these changes.
John P. Kronour, Ph.D.
Superintendent Northeastern Local Schools